Should Cancer Patients Go Outdoors?


Cancer and cancer treatments can weaken your immunity. The immune system allows the body to resist germ infections, such as viruses and bacteria. When your immune system is weakened, you are at a higher risk of infection. This is the reason, infection is a common complication of cancer and its treatment. Certain types of infection can be life-threatening if not found and treated early.

During cancer treatment, your cancer care team will talk to you about any increased risk for the infection you may have and what can be done to help prevent the disease. Usually, the risk is temporary because the immune system recovers after some time, but each person is different.

As we all know that cancer diagnosis and treatment are extraordinarily stressful times, particularly for people with cancer and survivors. But being outdoors provides a natural escape that can feel comforting and help fill our emotional tanks when we are running near empty. Once chemotherapy is completed, your immunity will start building with proper diet and medicine. It is always advised to cancer patients to go outside with certain precautions as it has many benefits both physically and mentally. 

As a precautionary measure, you should consider stepping out only if you can venture out without increased human contact and with all the necessary precautions like social distancing, face masks, hand gloves and sanitisers. It is also important to judge how safe and hygienic the outdoors accessible to you are. It is better to stay indoors than to subject yourself to polluted air and unsafe surroundings. 

However, if you can step into a clean park, or even the balcony of your own home, without additional risk of infections, you might want to take that option as often as possible.

Exposure to Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for cancer patients. Exposure to mild to moderate sunlight allows the body to absorb necessary amounts of vitamin D. Since the body cannot produce vitamin D and is reliant on external sources, sunlight is of paramount importance. Vitamin D helps to strengthen your bones, preventing diseases like osteoporosis. Even 15 minutes of daily sunlight can make a difference to your bone health. 

Besides improving your physical health, sunlight also improves mental health by providing serotonin that reduces the risk of seasonal affective disorders, anxiety and depression.

Sunlight also prevents you from coughing and cold. If you have a mild cold, sitting in sunlight will be helpful. 

Sunlight for Melatonin 

Melatonin is a hormone that helps to regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Sunlight helps the body produce melatonin, which aids in calming the mind and falling asleep. Receiving light during the day and darkness during the night regulates your sleep pattern and helps to reduce insomnia. If you are struggling to sleep well at night, try regularly exposing yourself to morning sunlight. You may find that your sleep and daytime function improve significantly, and that can have a big positive impact on your life.

Endorphins for reducing stress 

Even without realizing it, we get better physical exercise once we step out. Exercise releases hormones called endorphins which reduce feelings of stress and pain. Moderate walking, climbing a few stairs, and even a few stretches in the park can improve blood circulation, stamina, appetite and muscle strength. You may notice that your appetite improves after staying outdoors for a long time, thereby improving your nutrition intake. 

Remember to keep a bottle of water or juice with you at all times to prevent dehydration. Stop at the first sign of discomfort or tiredness. Always keep a sanitizer with you and sanitize your hands frequently to avoid infection. 

Oxygen is important 

You might have heard it said that oxygen is vital in the fight against cancer. Gentle exercise outdoors improves your breathing and allows a better intake of oxygen. If you prefer to sit in the park or on your balcony, consider practicing a few deep breathing exercises. These aid your lung functions and also lead to relaxation.

Many cancer patients who have used the outdoors safely to their advantage agree that they look forward to this part of their day. Making it a part of their daily routine ensures that they do not forget to do it and helps them adjust better to staying safe outdoors. At the same time, it is equally important to take all the precautionary measures to avoid any kind of infection. And always keep a water bottle with you. Keep drinking water as it will help you from dehydration. 


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